DOE Plans Major Changes To Its Appliance Energy Conservation Program

On November 21, 2017 the US DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) that provides notice DOE is considering wholesale changes to its energy conservation standards program. The current program for reducing energy consumption contains mandatory, minimum efficiency standards for appliances and other consumer, commercial, and industrial products that must be revisited every six years. The RFI suggests that the Trump Administration may replace this mechanism with a more market-oriented one. The RFI specifically solicits feedback on how trading schemes might be applied to energy conservation. The Federal Register notice was published on November 28 (see giving interested parties 90 days to comment (February 26, 2018).

The Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) requires the DOE to set minimum energy conservation standards for over 60 consumer, commercial, and industrial products. Manufacturers and importers must test and certify that their covered products meet all applicable energy conservation standards prior to initial distribution and annually after that. EPCA also requires DOE to review each energy conservation standard at least every six years for potential revision. This contains an “anti-backsliding” provision, preventing the DOE from loosening energy conservation standards for any reason.

The Trump Administration has put on hold several new energy conservation standards promulgated late in the Obama Administration. DOE Secretary Perry has called this program “overly burdensome”.

The RFI solicits feedback and suggestions on how market-based approaches might be used to improve energy efficiency. The RFI uses as a model established market-oriented approaches in other areas, such as the automotive corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, which permit automobile manufacturers to average the fuel efficiency of their automobiles across their entire fleet rather than have to comply with the individual fuel efficiency standard of each vehicle class. The RFI also cites the USEPA Acid Rain Program, a large regional cap-and-trade program, which succeeded in achieving significant reductions in power plant SO2 and NOx emissions by creating emission credits to be bought and sold to meet mandatory reduction goals. The RFI wishes to achieve energy use reductions at high efficiency and reduced cost.

The RFI is the DOE’s first significant attempt to modify the energy conservation standards program since it was enacted in 1987. Any changes to the rule can significantly impact energy and electricity usage and with that energy costs for all businesses and residents nationwide, greenhouse gas emissions and management of our electric grid, including the number and types of power plants nationwide. The public and manufacturers and importers of appliances have until February 26, 2018 to submit ideas and comments to the DOE for consideration in its redesign of the program.

CCES has the experts to help you plan and design your energy management program to maximize the direct financial benefits of minimizing energy use, including the most energy efficient equipment. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.